Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Pro-Family Groups Welcome Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage Cases
- Hamas: We'll Never Surrender 'Palestine'
- Food Stamp Use Hits New High
- Poll: Only 52 Percent of Americans Give Clergy High Marks for Honesty, Ethics
Pro-Family Groups Welcome Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage Cases
Several pro-family groups are voicing their approval that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided it will hear highly controversial cases on gay marriage, OneNewsNow.com reports. The Supreme Court said Friday it would hear arguments on California's Proposition 8 -- the voter-approved state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman -- and on a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage the same way for the purposes of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits. Jordan Lorence of Alliance Defending Freedom said, "We hope that they are going to uphold both of these and say that it is legitimate, constitutional policy to define marriage as one man and one woman, because marriage between a man and a woman is a universal good that diverse cultures and faiths have honored throughout the history of Western civilization." The National Organization for Marriage is also optimistic about the Supreme Court upholding Prop 8. "We believe [taking the case] is a strong signal that the court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8," said NOM's chairman, John Eastman. The Supreme Court is likely to hear arguments in March and hand down decisions in June.
Hamas: We'll Never Surrender 'Palestine'
Since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring almost two years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood has made significant advancements both in Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot in Gaza, celebrated its 25th anniversary over the weekend, and hundreds of thousands gathered in possibly the biggest rally in the history of Gaza to hear Hamas' political leader, Khaled Meshaal, CBN News reports. Egypt's new government allowed Meshaal to enter -- something the Mubarak government would not do -- and it marked the first time in 45 years that he had been in Gaza. He used the opportunity to pledge Israel's destruction, saying: "Palestine will be Palestine. We will never surrender the land, Jerusalem, the right of return or [our right] to resistance. We will not leave any inch of Palestinian land and we'll never give up any of our rights." Israeli president Shimon Peres stated in response to Meshaal's speech: "He unmasked the real nature of Hamas: to kill, to conquer, not to compromise, the people of Gaza can remain poor and hungry." Some say the Hamas rally is a sign they feel they won the recent conflict with Israel, and they are also emboldened after the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Hamas announced its desire to reach a unity agreement with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and some have speculated Meshaal could one day be a candidate for president of the PA.
Food Stamp Use Hits New High
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, reached another high in September, according to new data released by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Daily Caller reports. The data, released on Friday, shows that 47,710,324 people were enrolled in the program in September, an increase of 607,559 from the 47,102,765 enrolled in August. The number of households enrolled in the program also went up from 22,684,463 in August to 22,973,698 in September -- an increase of 289,235. The average benefit was $134.29 per person and $278.89 per household, and Texas, California and Florida were the states with the most recipients. The new numbers mean that an estimated one in 6.5 people in America were on food stamps in America. In the 1970s, one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps, but spending on the program has quadrupled since 2001 and doubled in just the last four years.
Poll: Only 52 Percent of Americans Give Clergy High Marks for Honesty, Ethics
Who do Americans regard as the most honest and ethical people in their lives? According to a new Gallup poll, most people would not say a pastor or clergyman, Christianity Today reports. The survey, in which respondents rated the "honesty and ethical standards" of different professions, found that 85 percent of Americans ranked nurses as "high/very high" and nearly three-quarters said the same about pharmacists -- but only 52 percent of respondents said clergy were highly honest. However, this number is up 2 percent from similar data in 2009, which marked the lowest recorded level of public trust in clergy in 32 years. Confidence in clergy has stayed relatively stable over time, ranging from 61 percent in 1977 to a high of 67 percent in 1985, and remaining consistently in the low 50s in recent years. And in 2012, clergy still fell within the top half of all rated professions, ranking eighth. Respondents regarded car salesmen and members of Congress as the least honest, garnering high/very high responses from only 8 and 10 percent, respectively.
Publication date: December 11, 2012